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story.lead_photo.caption <p>Democrat photo/Liz Morales</p><p>An excited California Elementary School student leaps to meet the welcoming high-five of Principal Gary Baker on the first day of school, which fell on Aug. 15.</p>

Just more than 1,000 California students struck up a new scholarly routine Aug. 15 as the 2019-20 school year officially began.

The CHS senior class of 2020 started their last first day of school, preschool students started their new adventure that is academia and a slew of returning elementary schoolers got their signature high-fives from CES principal Gary Baker last Thursday morning.

California Middle School even felt its own sense of excitement through the halls, principal Matt Abernathy said.

"The middle school had a wonderful start to the school year as teachers greeted students at the door and assisted them with looking over their schedules and getting them to their classes," Abernathy said. "There was excitement in the air as students met back up with friends and got to meet their new teachers."

The next few days saw middle school students receiving their Chromebooks and completing other housekeeping items to make sure the rest of the year is a smooth one.

The first day of school is the last one for the senior class of 2020. One such senior is realizing the weight of this truth.

"I'm in debt already," Rebekah Farmer said of her dual credit classes. "But I'm in three art classes, so that'll keep me busy and happy. I think I'll be pretty busy as it is, though. I absolutely love the art classes, though. Last year, I put in my cow project and it got best of show."

Farmer said while the stress level she is experiencing will eventually fade, the first day of school was "weird but fun."

Farmer is far from the only student getting back to the grind, superintendent Dwight Sanders said.

"Our students have returned from summer break with a great attitude and a willingness to get back to work," he said. "We have had the typical bumps with the transition of nearly 1,400 students returning back to school, but with the hard work of our staff and the patience and cooperation of our parents, it has been an extremely smooth start."

Sanders said the Pinto fall athletic programs are in full swing at both the middle and high school campuses. The middle school recently added a softball program to this mix.

"Our sponsors of the various clubs have been busily organizing their groups," Sanders said. "We are blessed with the best students anywhere and a dedicated staff that will lead our students throughout the year.

"I am confident that this will be an awesome school year."

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